Carey Whitmore (12) covertly texted with her phone hidden behind her knee, looking back and forth between her phone and the stage.
“I’m using a cell phone during a debate about cell phones,” she laughed softly to herself. She snapped her phone shut and fixed her attention on stage where Jamie Miller and Gregory Kuhn cross examined each other.
“Mr. Khun, how many students did you confiscate cell phones from today?” Mr. Miller asked.
Several groans rose from the audience–one student called out, “He took mine!”
The debate, which took place on April 20, 2010, focused on the use of mobile phones in the school environment.
“I want to win. I like debating, but it’s all about the fund raising.” said Mr. Miller, who argued for the removal of mobile devices from schools. At three dollars per person they usually “get money, not members.”
Still, the debates pull in a decent amount of students who, according to Julien Wright (9), are more attracted to the prospect of seeing their teachers onstage. “Definitely,” he said, “people are less attracted to the actual value of the debate. Everyone wants to see their teachers go at it and get grilled; it’s a lot of fun.”
Previous debates included the existence of the Abrahamic God between Mr. Miller and Mr. David Wright and a debate with Ms. Alison Hunt about same-sex marriage. “Somehow,” Mr. Miller says, “I lost both previous debates.” He suspects that the previous losses were results of the format of the debate. Each debate is presided over by a panel of judges–members of the debate team–and the audience acts as the last judge, sometimes a tie breaker. In the case of the cell phone debate, Miller says, “it was a slam dunk.” He won both the audience and judge’s votes.
Franey Miller, a freshman debate team member, said that she cast her vote for Mr. Miller.
“I thought it was a very good and well fought debate,” she said, “but in the end I voted for Mr. Miller because he was more serious about winning and had better arguments.”
Mr. Kuhn took a much less serious approach to the debate that, although it may have cost him the win, Mr. Miller said it “was fantastic. The audience loved it, and it will keep people interested.”